Cognitive Abilities of Low Birthweight Children at School Age

Date of Graduation

Fall 2005


Master of Science in Nursing



Committee Chair

Kathryn Hope


Birthweight is regarded as the most important predictor of probability for a neonate to experience healthy development and survival (Shibuya & Murray, 1998). Low birthweight (LBW) includes an infant equal to or less than 2,500 grams at birth. LBW infants and children can have delayed development (Institute of Medicine, 2003) and are at an increased risk for having cognitive problems that affect the school performance and academic achievement in children at school age (Botting et al., 1998; Weindrich et al., 2003). The purpose of this study was to identify the relationship of LBW status, including very low birthweight (VLBW) and extremely low birthweight (WLBW) status on cognitive abilities at school age, and to identify relationships between demographic variables and study variables. A descriptive cross-sectional design was utilized for the study. A convenience sample consisted of 22 participants who were born at LWB and were between 5 and 12 years of age. The setting took place mostly in participant’s homes. The measurement tool that was used was the standardized Wide Range Intelligence Test (WRIT). The participants were tested in verbal and visual areas. The results did not show statistical significance between the relationship of birthweight and gestational age to cognitive ability; however, this study showed clinical significance in this area. Demographic variables showed statistical significance with many study variables including annual household income, gender, and participant’s age. This study yields implications including the need to identify preterm, LBW children who come from low-income families and are at risk for visual deficits. Also important is the need for current research with preterm, LBW children at school age; younger children are beneficiaries of the most innovative medical technology.


low birthweight (LBW), very low birthweight (VLBW), preterm, premature, cognitive abilities, development, intelligence, preschool age, school age

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© Catherine B. Haddow